As the stream of bad economic data grows ever wider, one does begin to wonder what 'motor' will replace construction to push or pull Spain out of the recession/depression/slump that has taken us from the sunny uplands to the trough of despond in little more than a year. We all know - because we're told every day- that things are going to get worse in the near to mid term but it would be good to hear what is going to help in the longer term. I guess it isn't going to be massively increased tourism or amazingly productive structural changes in the Spanish economy. So, what? Are we going to have to keep our belts tightened for quite a while? Until property becomes fashionable again, perhaps.
The other thing one wonders about is whether any contingency planning at all was done at the time it was clear - to some of us at least - that an artificial, property-driven boom simply couldn't go on for ever. If President Zapatero's government did any of this, they're proving masterful at hiding the evidence. Perhaps they were too distracted by their campaign for a second term of office to read any of the runes.
Meanwhile, Madrid is now reducing cash transfers to the regions, just as these are suffering a huge drop in tax revenue from both the construction of new properties and the sale of old ones. Not to mention the abolition by Madrid of the annual wealth tax that went to them. And, in Galicia's case, the reduction of gift and inheritance taxes to bring it into line with other regions. It's little wonder, then, that town councils are beginning to talk about rises in rubbish collection and water bills and in the annual municipal charges. Just what you need when your mortgage is rising every month and inflation continues to be way above the European average. Perhaps the town halls will cut back on their public works expenditure. Though one suspects not.
There are some Spaniards who think sensitivity to racism has gone too far in the Anglo sphere. And there are some non-Spaniards who think it hasn't gone far enough in Spain. Both seem to be right to me. Here's an article on a current development in the London police force which ranks as a good example of Anglo excess. Given my well-rehearsed view on the madness of British society, I was always going to be impressed by a comment that "the latest effort in that direction is so utterly insane that it fair takes the breath away."
Statistics have just been published on the prostitution industry here. The table of establishments by region is headed by Andalucia. Followed by Valencia, Madrid, Castile La Mancha, Galicia, etc. etc. Given the respective populations, this must put us at or near the head [sorry] of the list. Fame at last. Interestingly, at least one city is trying to do something about this stain on Spanish society. In Sevilla, the council has started a poster campaign against prostitution with the slogan ‘Are you worth so little you have to pay? Prostitution exists because you do.' I predict zilch impact. But it's good to see it happening.
Another list in today's papers tells us which EU members are good at ignoring the rules on the internal market. To no one's great surprise [I guess], the top 3 are Italy, Spain and France. Then comes Greece and that other great maker of the rules, Germany. Wonderful. I'm taken back to the regular injunction of my father's - Don't do as I do. Do as I say. For which I blame my attitude to authority.
Galicia: Matters non-prostitutional
It's reported the central government is trying to enlist the support of nationalist groups in its ongoing battle with Cataluña over a new model of regional finance. Which makes sense. And possibly explains why not only the Xunta President but also President Zapatero accepted the demand of the Galician Nationalist Party that the election not be brought forward from next March. The depressing end result is that we'll now have an unofficial [illegal?] six-month campaign instead of the usual unofficial [illegal?] three-month campaign. We had the local-born President of the Opposition in town over the weekend, following President Z's flying visit last week. Presumably the diaries of both of them reflected the universally-held belief that the elections advance was a done deal.
Not surprisingly, the BNG President is acting like the cock of the walk. His response to his coalition partner's request that he show some loyalty and stop electioneering was to say he wasn't going to take the request into account. I guess he's betting on some deals with Madrid that will favour his vote in March. But what if the BNG sees its share reduce but nonetheless gets back into power as a coalition partner with the PSOE? Or even the PP? Even more tail-wagging? Or a change in the elections law? My bet is on the former.
Anyway, it's already a good week in more important ways. The sun is still shining, the tourists have left town and I've managed to download the first song I ever bought on vinyl - Nut Rocker by, of course, B Bumble and The Stingers. Nostalgia time.
Finally - The latest bush . . .